It was a return of the titans at race two of the 2014 Illovo Suncoast Wall and Back Surfski Series as series defending champion Matt Bouman lead home a powerful men’s to record his race victory of this year’s series while Nikki Russell made it two from two in the women’s clash.Bouman returned from his fourth place effort at the Breizh Ocean Race in Quiberon, France last weekend to return to the front of the field in the competition in which he clinched 2013’s crown despite not claiming a single race victory of his own.
The Epic Kayaks ace went head to head with Varsity College/Epic Kayaks’ Grant van der Walt throughout the eight kilometer showdown from Suncoast Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club at Battery Beach to the north pier of Durban’s harbour mouth and back and in the end just a mere ten seconds separated the two.
“I couldn’t really ‘get ahead’ of Grant (van der Walt) at any stage; it was just about eking out those inches the entire way and in the end it was a just a wave or two between us so it really was a close, tough race between the two of us,” explained Bouman.
“Wade (Krieger) has a lifesaving World Champs third place in the ski competition to his name as well and he finished third here tonight which just goes to show what a town little town Durban is to paddle in.
“It’s a Friday night and yet one’s having to push as hard as we did tonight just to try stay ahead of a heap of guys just behind you,” he added.
In stark contrast to race one’s conditions, Neptune offered a relatively easy break zone affording paddlers a comfortable start and finish while a slight tail wind and ocean swell on the return leg offered some assistance.
“Obviously I wasn’t here last week but I heard it was pretty tricky. Tonight it was a very gentle wave on the way out and the wind made the sea look a lot angrier than it really was out there.
“I quite enjoyed the conditions; there was a bit of a bump on the way back and the wind was actually quite polite,” described Bouman.
Like Bouman, van der Walt is busy building towards his international assignment in Hong Kong – the Dragon Run – in a few weeks’ time and was satisfied with his second place effort.
“There wasn’t much in it between Matt and I; it was a pretty good race in the end,” he said. “I’m gearing up for Hong Kong, the Pete Marlin in East London and then maybe the Cape Town Downwind in December so this is all part of getting ready for those.”
Rapidly developing young talent Kyle Friedenstein continued his positive start to the series as he added a fourth place to his second last Friday while fellow under-23 Gene Prato rounded out the top five.
Jason Ekstrand and Richard Lowe just pipped Greg Worthington and Malcolm Pitt in a sprint up the beach for the spoils in the doubles category while Varsity College/Fenn Kayaks’ Russell finished over a minute ahead of Fenn Kayaks’ Jenna Ward in the women’s tussle.
“It’s just so cool paddling with and against such a good friend (Ward); it almost doesn’t really matter to us which one ends up winning,” said Russell.
“Jen did however win the Bay Union Surfski Series in the winter though so it would be nice if I could get this one,” she admitted.
Russell was forced to recover from a poor start before a strong return leg saw her shake Ward however the former Eastern Cape resident will disappointingly miss out on the opportunity to make it three from three next Friday due to a packed schedule.
“A wave broke square on my head at the start so when I caught up Jenna and the bunch I decided to stay with them rather than try go off on my own. We turned at the can together and that’s when I just put my head down and went for it and fortunately I managed to string a couple of good runs together.“This Sunday I’ll be racing in the Mouth2Mouth race on the north coast, which I’m really looking forward to, and then from Wednesday to Saturday I’ll be taking part in the four-day long Richards Bay to Pirates race,” said Russell.
Race three of the six-leg series takes place on Friday 7 November at 17h15 at Suncoast Pirates, Battery Beach. More info can be found at www.wallandback.co.zaSUMMARY OF RESULTS – ILLOVO SUNCOAST WALL AND BACK SURFSKI SERIES
1.Matt Bouman 33.17
2.Grant van der Walt 33.27
3.Wade Krieger 34.35
4.Kyle Friedenstein 35.01
5.Gene Prato 35.01
1.Nicole Russell 38.45
2.Jenna Ward 39.57
1.Jordan Clausen 37.45
2.Bailey de Fondaumiere 39.08
3.Brett Wilkin 39.11
1.Jason Ekstrand/Richard Lowe 34.48
2.Greg Worthington/Malcom Pitt 34.49
3.Luke Chalupsky/Sean Dias
1.Russell Sadler/Carmel Billson 38.43
2.Paul van Achterbergh/Sam Rowe 38.50
3.Terry Henebrey/Louisa van Staden 41.51
Images: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media